Friday, July 31, 2015

True stories dominate the multiplex

From "Lee Daniels' The Butler" to "Rush" to "Captain Phillips," real-life stories are all over the movie screens

True stories dominate the multiplex

Tom Hanks under siege in "Captain Phillips."
Tom Hanks under siege in "Captain Phillips."

“Based on a true story.” “Inspired by real events.” Just about the only movie out there right now that doesn’t seem to have been sourced in real life is the hit fam-com Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. And who knows, maybe a torrent of meat-orbs and spaghetti sauce did fall on somebody, somewhere, sometime?

Of course, Parkland, opening tomorrow, extrapolates from the trigically historic events of Nov. 22, 1963 in Dallas, when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Captain Phillips, opening Oct. 11, finds Tom Hanks in the role of a U.S. freighter captain whose ship was taken by Somali pirates in 2009. And although the character’s name has been changed, and storylines invented and compressed, Lee Daniels’ The Butler does represent the experiences of Eugene Allen,  an African American who served seven presidents, from Truman through Reagan, in the White House.

Speaking of serving presidents, in Haute Cuisine, also opening tomorrow, the woman who cooked Francois Mitterand his breakfasts, lunches and dinners at the Elysee Palace for close to two years – the first female chef to work in such a capacity – is portrayed with energy and elegance by actress Catherine Frot. Like The Butler,  the principal character’s name has been changed, to accommodate the film’s fictive flourishes.

You want more non-fiction-inspired entertainment? Ron Howard’s Rush reconstructs the race car rivalry of Formula One legends James Hunt and Niki Lauda. And The Fifth Estate, opening Oct. 11, has Benedict Cumberbatch in the role of WikiLeaks founder (and current Ecuadorian embassy shut-in) Julian Assange, dealing with enemies real and imagined -- and with Daniel Bruhl, from Rush, as his sidekick cum nemesis.


More to come: 12 Years a Slave, The Wolf of Wall Street, Dallas Buyetrs Club, The Monuments Men and Saving Mr. Banks.

Inquirer Movie Columnist and Critic
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Consider our Movies blog your essential guide to new movies and classics, interviews with filmmakers and stars, news and views on the latest screen trends, reviews and the occasional rant.

Steven Rea Inquirer Movie Columnist and Critic
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